“Gospel” comes from a Greek word that means “good news”. This word has come to refer to the glorious good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. This news is the culmination of God’s plan to redeem a people for Himself.
The gospel is not a new plan of salvation; it is the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation that began after the Fall (Genesis 3:15). It was hinted at throughout Israel’s history and wondrously completed in the person of Jesus Christ (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-6; Galatians 3:12-15; Ephesians 2:11-22).
The gospel is news about the saving work of God which He has accomplished through His Son Jesus Christ. The nature of the gospel demands a response from us. We are called to believe it and trust Him who sends it (Romans 1:16–17). For Jesus is more than a messenger of the gospel; He is the gospel. That is, the good news of God is focused on Jesus’ life, teaching, atoning death and glorious resurrection. So the gospel is both good news about a historical event and good news about a personal relationship which we can now enjoy with our Creator God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Faith is more than intellectual agreement to a theoretical truth. Faith is trust placed in a living person, Jesus Christ. When the apostle Paul warned Christians of the dangers of following “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7), he was reminding them that any “gospel” different than the one he preached was no gospel at all. God’s good news is found in Jesus alone and made available to all who call upon Him.
Starting in the second century, the word “gospel” came to be used for certain writings in which the “good news” or story of Jesus Christ was told. These writings were written by followers of Jesus in the first century (between 55 and 90 AD), but they became known as “gospels” much later. Mark was the first to write such a story (Mark 1:1), and in so doing he invented a literary form which today is called a “gospel.” The New Testament has four versions of the one gospel: the “gospels” of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These “gospels” are the historical records of the life and teachings of Jesus.
The gospel is good news. The gospel is also a biographical presentation of the life of Jesus. The writings of the apostles explain the saving significance of the gospel for the world, so that all who hear the news will call on Him in faith (I Corinthians 15:1-11; I Peter 1:8-9; I John 1:1).